There comes a point in most relationships when, undeniably, things just aren’t working out. At this cross-section, you’ve got options:
In the long history of my bags and I, I’ve exhausted the first two options, shamefully and perpetually. I have quit on my bags, condemning them for not carrying their weight. Behind the backs of my more utilitarian carriers, I've opted for affairs with sleeker models.
But it’s never too late to change, and people do, or so I hear.
Enter Alite (A-light) Designs in Potrero Hill. Creative director and designer Tae Kim grew up in Alaska and came to the lower 48 to attend Stanford’s Product Design Program. From there, he spent 10 years at North Face, where he made gear for the Everest set. He then founded Alite.
Aside from trying to take the “roughing it” out of the roughing it and get you outdoors (check out their Sexy Hotness sleeping bag for two), Alite wants to ensure you have a healthy relationship with your everyday bag, and for that they offer bag therapy. And that’s why I’m here, because for me and my bag, it’s just not working.
I cruise over to Alite for our first counseling session. Things get personal right away.
Tae has some questions for me.
“Plain and simple, the tote is not your style,” Tae says. “Actually, it’s very common for women to find inexpensive tote bags that put function before form, compromising their sense of personal style in order to schlep all that they require.” Amen.
Tae has three thoughts:
1. I'll want to consider carrying three "sub bags," in order to minimize the hassle of changing bags twice daily.
2. The main bag must be beautiful, chic, and made with recycled materials.
3. The bag should be convertible-in Tae's words, a "split personality bag."
I’m to return in two weeks for a mock-up review. Tae has already started sketching, and my imagination runs eagerly when I pass fabric samples on my way out.
By some tremendous twist of fate, the proto is finished on the day I’m leaving on a foray into Mexico. And she’s gorgeous – everything I’m looking for in a companion. She proves to be a quick study, sleek enough to fit in seamlessly at the expensive hotel we randomly end up at, the perfect companion to my shady overnight bus trip, and large enough to fit my laptop, moleskin, and an assortment of other travel writing materials I’m packing.
Tae wants feedback on Proto and I have little more than pleasure-laden shrieks, peppered with tiny tweaks for him. And then we wait. And Tae builds.
When Proto’s sleeker, older sister, Final, arrives in the mail, I let out a gasp. She’s a beauty: recycled ivory military canvas with reclaimed leather belts as shoulder straps, and a longer, removable, leather belt crossbody strap. Lined with green recycled military canvas and filled with zippable pockets, she fits my laptop perfectly, houses my moleskin like a pro, and zips away my iPhone like her cloth-life depends on it. It’s love.
But I wasn’t born yesterday – I know that this is the giddy honeymoon period. Soon she’ll grow weary of my perpetual scowl, and eventually, I’ll see holes in her once-perfect exterior. She’ll stop finding the weird noise I make when my throat itches endearing, and I won’t find her to be as pure and serene as she is now.
That said, she’s a damn perfect start: fulfills all of my quotas, hugs me tight, has an adventurous spirit, and looks super foxy. I’m in it for the long haul this time – it’s me and Final against the world.
This story originally ran in Volume 3 of The Bold Italic magazine – SF By Design – which is available for purchase as a single issue or with a subscription.
The Hanah Bag
Dig the bag? Tae of Alite Designs liked them so much he decided to stitch five of them exclusively for The Bold Italic Shop. Made of recycled denim and belts from Mission Thrift, this is an all-purpose bag that is meant to transition from day to night easily. It will also hold your 15" laptop handsomely in its padded pouch.
See our Shop for more details.